Modern Shimla has old-world charm

Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh, is located at an average altitude of 2,397 meters in the Himalayas. It is spread over a 9.2-km east-west stretch on seven hills. Pine, deodar, oak and rhododendron forests surround the city. Hill station Shimla still has the British era aura. Many of the 19th century buildings, including the Vice Regal Lodge, are surviving. The Mall, with its shops and eateries, is the main hub of the city. Shimla is a major centre for adventure activities like river rafting, rock climbing and trekking.  Skiing is another activity that is popular among the tourists.

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A rail-line to remember

The Kalka-Shimla railway line is a popular among visitors. Constructed in 1906, the route has 806 bridges and 103 tunnels. It is one of the world heritage sites.  The Mall is the central district with shops, clubs, restaurants, bars, banks and tourist offices. The Gaiety Theatre, launched in May 1887, is also situated there. The impressive Christ Church on the Ridge is one of the oldest churches. Jakhu Hill, the highest point 2 km from Shimla, provides a lovely view of the city and snow-covered mountains. It has a 108-foot tall statue of Hanuman.  On its north are the snow-covered ranges of the Himalayas. Valleys replete with gushing streams and green fields lie in between.

Tourist spots

Among other places of tourist interest are the Shimla State Museum, Indian Institute of Advanced Study,  Tara Devi temple, Sankat Mochan temple, Naldehra Golf Club, Maharaja of Patiala’s summer retreat Chail, and sulphur springs at Tattapani. People preferring to relax can opt for camping and golfing, a stroll on the Mall, or walk around the ridge. The winter sports centre Kufri also has a path through potato plantations, which doubles as a ski track in winters.

Transport

Shimla has local bus transport and private vehicles. No vehicles are allowed on the ridge and the Mall area. Tourist taxis take the visitors on out of town trips. Shimla is well-connected by road and rail to many towns and cities. There are Shimla-Delhi and Kullu flights the Jubbarhatti airport, 23 km away. The Kalka-Shimla narrow gauge train is Shimla’s rail link with the country.

Low temperatures

Shimla climate is usually cool. Its summers are a bit warm. The winter temperature varies from −4 °C to 10 °C and the summer from 19 °C to 28 °C. The annual precipitation is 1,575 millimeters. The city witnesses snowfall in January or early February. It has no water bodies. The nearest water body is the Sutlej, 21 km away. Frequent landslides affect the city after heavy rain. The increasing population and the pressure of tourism have aggravated the landslide problem.

Winter clothing

The average Shimla temperature is rather low by Indian standards. Even in summer, people from many parts of India could feel the chill. While the elderly and the very young will surely need good winter wear in all seasons, men will be able to make do with a light trendy jacket in summers. They can look for winter jackets for men online in India before launching their Shimla holiday.

The author is a freelancer, writing about woolens, online trade, and tourism. He likes to write articles changing societies for websites like www.woollen-wear.in.